The idea of pressing flowers has been around for hundreds of years. Historically, it was used to preserve, catalogue and identify plants as they were discovered by gluing them onto paper and labelling them with an index card. As time moved on, specimens were arranged in more artistic ways and pressed flower art was born. The popularity of this art grew dramatically during the Victorian era when it became a favourite past time of young ladies. However, the techniques and products used to press flowers have improved dramatically since then and today we can achieve much better results.
The tools you need to start flower pressing are simple and easy to obtain – newspaper, blotting paper, a blunt knife, some heavy books and paper glue. With these and a bit of patience, you can create wonderful art either as a hobby or to sell.
If you plan to do a lot of flower pressing, however, you may want to build a flower press. This can be done simply using two pieces of wood, cardboard, blotting paper, and nuts and bolts. Begin by cutting the wood to size and making four holes, one in each corner. Slot cardboard and paper alternately between the wood and insert four bolts. Tighten and you’re away – all you need now are the flowers!
The best time to pick your flowers is when they are in full bloom on a summer afternoon, as this is when they are mostly free of natural moisture. Obviously there aren’t many sunny summer afternoons to be had during a typical English year, but fear not! All you need to do is vary the time you leave them to dry. A few of my favourite flowers to press are pansies, daisies, buttercups and violets – mainly because they’re the easiest!
So, what’s the best way to press a flower? Snip the stem, leaving half an inch, and place carefully between your blotting paper. Now leave to dry either underneath some heavy books or in your cleverly designed flower press. To perfect the process, keep your drying flowers somewhere warm as this will help retain their colour and form. Good places for this are attics, car boots and garages shelves in warmer weather. Once dried, your can uncover your pressed flowers and see the striking results.
Flower pressing is a relaxing and comforting past time. As well as creating unique works of art, it is said to be good for the soul. What’s more, you can create beautiful greeting cards, photo albums, pictures, wall hangings and more all for free. You can also use flower pressing to preserve a memory from a special moment or occasion – perfect for a romantic gift or just as something to treasure forever.